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George Martin: The Fifth Beatle

March 10, 2016

George Martin can be credited as one of the world’s biggest names in the music industry who propelled four young men to stardom. Yet, he chose to remain away from the limelight. George Martin played a pivotal role in the rise of the Beatles, one of the biggest rock bands of the 60s and a global phenomenon. He is fondly referred to as the Fifth Beatle. To this day, rock bands swear by the group’s name.

George Martin and Pete Best

If George Martin was the man behind the success of the Beatles, he was also responsible for the fall of Pete Best. The original drummer of the Beatles, Pete Best was sacked by the band because Martin was not too convinced about his drumming. He felt that what was good at Liverpool’s Cavern Club was not ideal in a studio. Best’s mother, who was infuriated at the time over her son’s sacking, later told a journalist that when she complained to Martin over phone, he was taken aback and said that he had never suggested to sack Pete. All he was saying was that for the first record of the group he would use a session man. Anyways, the damage was done and Pete was replaced by Ringo Starr.

Piano roused his interest in music

His interest in music was sparked by a piano that was acquired by his family when he was six years old. Two years later, he persuaded his parents to let him have piano sessions. But he could only take eight lessons as his classes had to be stopped due to a disagreement between his mother and teacher. But that did not deter him as he taught himself to play the piano.

He took part in WW2

George Martin was a participant during the WW2. He had worked for a short period of time as a clerk and quantity surveyor in the War Office. From 1943 till 1947, he worked as a pilot and a commissioned officer in the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy. However, he did not take part in combat during the war.

George Martin found the Beatles unpromising

On February 13, 1962, George Martin had a meeting with Brian Epstein, the manager of the Beatles. He found the group rather unpromising when he heard a tape of the group that was recorded at Decca but was influenced by the vocals of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. He decided to take a chance with the unknown band heralding a partnership that would give rise to one of the most influential bands in the history of rock.

A penny in the first contract

When the first contract was awarded to the Beatles, George Martin offered 75 per cent of the penny for each record sold. That was to be split between the four Beatles, while Martin was to keep the rest of the 25 per cent. Nevertheless, the Beatles sold a large number of records which enabled them to become wealthy.

The joke that got it started

On their first day in the Studio, George Martin gave them a tough lecture on their weaknesses. After he was finished with his lecturing, he asked them whether there was anything that they did not like. To this, band member George Harrison joked, “I Don’t like your tie”. This led to other band members joining in with the humor. Impressed with their wit, George Martin decided to sign them for a contract.

His other notable works

After the breakup of the Beatles, George Martin went on to work on other bestseller tracks. As a producer, he collaborated with Jeff Beck, America, Elton John, Mahavishnu Orchestra and others. He also worked on two James Bond themes – Goldfinger and Live and Let Die.

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